16 Days in China: SFO-YVR in Air Canada Executive Class

I wasn't originally going to write a post about this first, short leg of my trip, but I was so impressed with the segment that I decided otherwise. I flew from San Francisco to Vancouver in Air Canada's Executive Class on an EMB190. I was in seat 3F, and I was quite impressed with the seats. The EMB190 is, for all intents and purposes, a regional jet. Air Canada really does a great job of equipping these like mainline jets. All of the seats on the plane have in-flight entertainment with a touchscreen. There's also a USB port for charging iPods and such.

In executive class, the configuration is 1-2. The seats are wide, comfy, and there's plenty of legroom. They're in way better shape than the first class seats on United's CRJ 700. In the mood for a laugh, I decided to pop "Dumb and Dumber" on. It always annoys me when airlines and hotels have nice, high resolution windscreens and fill them with low-res 4:3 video, but at least with a movie like "Dumb an Dumber," it doesn't matter that much. One of my pet peeves with United Domestic First Class is the awkward dividing of foot space. It pretty much separates the foot space into three compartments, and it can make for some awkward space sharing with your neighbor. These Air Canada seats don't have that problem. The space is pretty wide open.

They came by offering a choice of water or orange juice, and actually my one complaint with the seats is that without the tray table down, there isn't a great place to put your drink down. Afterwards, they brought the breakfast menu by. I think paper menus are classy, and I appreciate AIr Canada providing these on short flights like San Francisco to Vancouver… on a regional jet no less! I thought it was a great move when United first introduced paper menus with their Choice Menu in Economy, but alas, they got rid of those.

After takeoff, the flight attendants came by to take our breakfast order, and they referred to everyone by name. This is such a nice touch, and it only happens on one in ten United flights. I ordered the blueberry pancakes because I've never had pancakes on airplane before, and I was curious how they would be.

They were quite good! They came with a choice of a warm roll, some turkey sausage, fruit, and a cup of yogurt. It hit the spot, and it was the perfect breakfast to start off a great day. After breakfast, it was back to work. I popped open my laptop and continued work on a proposal I was writing, but I had Jim Carey on the screen to provide some comic relief! The flight attendants were quite attentive, and they came by later with a small tray of nuts. Unlike United's most delicious hot nots, these were cold, but I love me some mixed nuts… so they hit the spot.

SFO-YVR is only a 700 mile trek, and I was riding in an EMB190, but I think this flight is a good example of how an airline can make a short flight a memorable experience for passengers. Over the past couple years, I've done some business in Canada, and it has "forced" me to use Air Canada a few times over my primary carrier, United, but as time has gone on, the airline has really grown on me. The staff is great, the planes are in good shape, and I really like the Maple Leaf Lounges. That's all for now… more posts of my trip to Asia to come a bit later!


Helixcardinal April 9, 2011 at 10:22 am

"It always annoys me when airlines and hotels have nice, high resolution windscreens and fill them with low-res 4:3 video"

Agreed, especially in hotels. Those big flat panel HDTVs are a big waste of money without HD cable.

Nick April 9, 2011 at 10:31 am

I have loved Air Canada since I first flew them. The upgrades are surprisingly good even on extra short flights (EWR-YYZ and YYZ-ORD). For breakfast you get a choice of hot breads, and the meal time flights have a real nice cheese plate, even for flights that are less than an hour in flight.

@Nick: How do you upgrade on AC?

Kevin April 9, 2011 at 07:11 pm

@Matthew, You need to have a friend with Air Canada status. I'm not sure which tier... then they can add up to 5 people, I believe, to their list of friends in their account, and they can sponsor upgrades. Depending on their status level, they can sponsor up to 7 days in advance, but no sooner. The fare code to check for is R space. That's the instantly upgradable fare. And by "instantly," I mean assuming that it is available at the time of applying. Also, your own personal status does not matter - only theirs. You also need to have your Air Canada mileage plan number associated with the itinerary, but you can change it back to your mileage plus number after the upgrade clear / doesn't. I might write a post about it in the near future. @Nick, yeah it's great! @Helixcardinal, I hear ya - really bothers me!!

@Kevin: Thanks--I think a post on that would really be helpful.

Nick April 10, 2011 at 05:37 am

@Matthew: When Air Canada oversells on coach and cleared AC elites, they will upgrade UA Star Golds. I've gotten two upgrades, and while they have been completely unexpected, they have been quite pleasant

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